Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Narrow Gauge - Part 1

I have always been a big fan of industrial narrow gauge.  The New Jersey waterfront (New York Harbor) was rife with these small little tramways.  Over the years I would say I have come across at least 50 of these lines and there are probably many more that I'm not aware of.  A large concentration was centered around the city of Perth Amboy, which is located in the lower extremities of the port of New York, and which also happens to be the setting of our model railroad (more on that in a future post)     The majority of the industrial narrow gauge lines were related to clay mining , and/or the manufacture of brick, fire brick, terra cotta, and fireproofing (hollow brick)     Others were related to sand mining.  Still others were in the three large non-ferrous metals refineries.  (For a good portion of the 20th century, over 90% of the copper produced in America was refined in three plants only a few miles apart).    One of the pictures is of the US Metals Plant in Carteret - a 30" gauge system.   
At this past Steel Mill Modeler's Meet John Glabb gave an excellent presentation on narrow gauge lines in steel mills, and what was available for modeling them.   We plan on having a fair sized HOn30 narrow gauge system in our steel making section of the plant, which we have yet to build even the benchwork for.   John, the proprietor of Peachcreek Shops (see links) is in the process of manufacturing a line of HOn30 ingot cars.  As far as HOn30 motive power - we own a Roco European Diesel and a not so great working AHM Minitrains tank loco.   Our thoughts at this time are to purchase a Grandt Line 25 ton GE HOn3 loco and convert it to HOn30.  If it runs well and the conversion goes smooth we will probably buy four or five of them.   John Glabb also told me of a source for dual gauge HO/HOn30 track, which will probably make things real interesting.    I've heard a few comments over the past few years that HOn30 is too small a gauge for a steel mill - the minimum being 3 foot - this is actually not the case.  The Open Hearth Plant of the Edgar Thomson Works had an extensive 30" gauge system, for one. 
One hope we had recently was that Funaro & Camerlengo released a Narrow Gauge Plymouth Switcher body in cast resin.  We had hoped that this body would fit over Bachmann's excellent MDT n-scale diesel mechanism.  We picked up the kit this past weekend, but it won't fit, even with extensive modification.   The only thing that it will fit, I found out later is the old AHM Minitrain's Plymouth switcher, which we don't have.    We will still use the kit for something.  Finally,  with all this narrow gauge fever, Jimmy ripped up his N-scale layout in his room and is replacing it with a On30 layout.  We have a fair amount of Bachmann On30 equipment, and also, shown in the one photo - a beautiful Chivers Finelines gondola kit.  These are hard to find in the US, but excellent kits.  I also have a little shorty boxcar by Boulder Valley that I need to assemble for him.   

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